AMB has launched a ‘Cyclone Pam Emergency Appeal’ to assist with relief efforts in the Pacific region, particularly in Vanuatu. At least half of the population, or about 130,000 people, has been affected, according to the Vanuatu Red Cross Society. UNICEF estimates that at least 60,000 children across the country could be at risk. AMB will be working with churches and relief agencies to provide up to date information on our website and to help coordinate relief efforts.
Much infrastructure has been damaged: most roads are flooded or blocked by fallen trees, 80% of power lines are estimated to be down in Port Vila, and most telephone, mobile and internet networks are not functioning. Even Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) HF radio system has been damaged, meaning that contact with the provinces has been lost. Although badly damaged, the main hospital in Port Vila is operational.
The entire country has likely been affected, to some extent, by the extremely damaging winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges and flooding. On Efate, the most populous island, UN OCHA reports an estimated 90 per cent of structures are either damaged or destroyed. Access to the most affected areas of Efate province is blocked as the Teouma bridge has been badly damaged and affected by a flash flood.
The Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM), with two dioceses in Vanuatu, has developed staff skilled in disaster preparedness and response, in collaboration with Anglican agencies. These skills brought both resilience and effectiveness to ACOM’s response to flash flooding in the Solomon Islands last year and will be invaluable as the Church now responds to the current terrible disaster in Vanuatu.
Archbishop David Vunagi, Provincial Primate based in the Solomon Islands, has been in touch with the Anglican Alliance to discuss the situation and how we can, as the Anglican family, stand in solidarity at this time through prayer and support.
Dr Abraham Hauriasi, ACOM General Secretary, writes to the Anglican Alliance: “It is profoundly distressing what we are seeing and hearing in the media, especially for our people in Vanuatu. We are still trying to get in touch with our offices in Vanuatu to see what immediate assistance we can provide. As with the floods last year, a coordinated response is required and it would be greatly appreciated if the Anglican Alliance could facilitate a similar conference call for all ACOM partners across the Communion. In the meantime, we shall try and gather as much information as we can get, including talking to our people on the ground as to how our response can be better coordinated and in what form.”
Please send donations to AMB marked Cyclone Pam Emergency Appeal. Information on how to donate can be found on our website.
Update from Anglican Taonga:
Fe’i Tevi is a member of our General Synod, and in January he moved with his family to Port Vila, Vanuatu from Fiji.
Michael Hughes, General Secretary, and Lloyd Ashton, Media Officer, have been fortunate enough to talk with Fe’i about what it was like to live through the hours when Cyclone Pam was doing its worst.
Fe’i’s vivid account of that experience, along with his thoughts about what lies ahead for Vanuatu, and how best the church can help, is here: http://www.anglicantaonga.org.nz/News/Tikanga-Pasifika/Pam
Second Update from Anglican Taonga – 19 March 4.00pm:
Fe’i Tevi has today sent us some photos from his post-Pam trip around the homes of parishioners at Port Vila’s seaside Anglican Church. There are some new shots too of the church itself – or rather what remains of it. They are here: http://www.anglicantaonga.org.nz/News/Tikanga-Pasifika/Pam